Tag Archives: Deathtoll

The First EverQuest II Progression Server is Coming to an End

Just a little over three years ago I was writing about the launch of the Stormhold and Deathtoll servers, Daybreak’s first run at the time locked progression server idea with EverQuest II.

That is Daybreak’s graphic for the idea

The idea has been an ongoing success for EverQuest, but there was still an outstanding question as to whether or not the original was uniquely qualified for that sort of thing of if Daybreak could make the magic happen with the never-quite-a-successor.

There had been polls and a bunch of details about what to expect when it launched.

Missing from my lauch day post was the last minute surprise about Daybreak bringing back the Isle of Refuge as the starting zone for the new servers.

Subscribers Only

I was excited to see how this played out and signed up to give it a try.  However, like the game at launch, going back to something akin to its origins wasn’t a very satisfying solo affair.  Like a lot of my EverQuest memories, my good times in EverQuest II were as part of a guild that played together.  Wandering solo at a slow pace meant not keeping up with expansion unlocks and the mass of players, so I did not stick with it for too long.

I kept an eye on the news as things progressed through the first few expansions, but even that tapered off after a while.

I was still watching when Deathtoll, the PvP server, was shut down due to low population, ending the history of PvP servers for the game save for the Russian server.  It was gone before the Echoes of Faydwer expansion was up for a vote.

After that I didn’t hear much about it and didn’t pay it much mind.  Daybreak did other special servers, the Race to Trakanon event server, the Free Trade server, and the second round time locked server, which opened a little over a year ago, Fallen Gate.

Today, however, I saw some news about the Stormhold server.  It has apparently run its course.  Unlike the many expansions of EverQuest, which has kept the Fippy Darkpaw server, which launched in February 2011 (last time line here), up and running with things to unlock to this very day, the plan for Stormhold only had a dozen transitions planned.  Even at a leisurely four unlocks a year, possible with the short voting windows, Stormhold could have easily run its course by now.

And so, come September 4th of this year, the Stormhold server will be merged into the Antonia Bayle server.

I am curious as to why they chose that server.  It used to be the popular server, the cool kids server, where events and such happened.  It was the server that was passed over when server merges hit the other live servers back in November of 2015.  But now it seems to be in need of a bit of a population boost.

Of course, this is just my sort of luck.  When the server merges happened before no two servers that I had characters on were merged together.  The server count went from ten to four and I still had characters on three different live servers.  Well, now it will be four.  I have a couple of characters on Stormhold and soon they will be on Antonia Bayle.  Just what I needed.

The Coming Death of Deathtoll and PvP in EverQuest II

The story of PvP in EverQuest II is one of brief flashes of modest popularity interspersed amongst great stretches of general ennui.  It is an object lesson in lack of focus.

Because SOE certainly spent a lot of developer time on PvP when it came to EQII in an attempt to find a way to make it work.  But in what is almost completely a PvE oriented game, with classic level and gear progression, PvP never quite fit right.  Over the years SOE tried a number of things, limiting levels at which you could engage other players, nerfing stats when used in PvP, and eventually just giving all gear both PvE AND PvP stats.   They have had open world PvP, arenas, duels, and WoW-like battlegrounds.

And all of it was, in my opinion, a waste of development time.

PvP is not at all core to what made EverQuest II (or EverQuest) the game it is today.  I won’t say nobody played EQII for PvP, because there is always a small group that likes it and shouts loudly for it in the forums, but you would be hard pressed to convince me that all the work done on PvP over the last 11 years was a sound investment based on how many players it attracted.

Back in June when the legacy Norrath team started talking about nostalgia servers for EQII, I was pretty quick to discount the PvP idea.  Not core.

That is Daybreak's graphic for the idea

Generic TLE graphic

So it was a bit of a surprise to me when Daybreak announced not one, but two Time Locked Expansion servers, Stormhold for PvE, and Deathtoll for PvP.

I am not saying that people haven’t had fun with PvP in EQII, because clearly people have.  But it has never been a serious draw relative to the PvE side of the game, a fact proven once again by yesterday’s forum announcement:

Deathtoll will be merged with the PvE Time-Locked Expansion server Stormhold. This is currently scheduled for Tuesday, April 5, 2016. If you haven’t chosen to transfer your character before this date, we’ll be moving characters that remain on Deathtoll to Stormhold on April 5.

Deathtoll is dead, gone before it made it to the Secrets of Faydwer expansion.

And, in keeping with how these things go, that forum announcement has responses complaining about how Daybreak isn’t supporting the PvP community, completely oblivious to the fact that there apparently isn’t a big enough PvP community to even keep one server going.

If you have a character on the Deathtoll server… and are still subscribed to Daybreak All Access… you should be getting a token via in-game mail for a free transfer to any other EQII server.  If you are a PvP fan still on Deathtoll, I might have suggested transferring to that Russian PvP server… Harla Dar wasn’t it… but the Russian servers are being merged into the Splitpaw EU server.

Thus endeth PvP in EverQuest II… and good riddance to it.

Yes, I know a few people liked it.  And there will still be battlegrounds.  But in the end, non-core feature was non-core, and you cannot argue otherwise without creating castles in the sky built on magical clouds of “what if…” and “If only SOE had…” speculation.

This sort of “must cater to all play styles” idea should die, especially now in this era of the niche MMORPG.  Like so many other unsustainable MMO industry trends, you can probably blame this is one on WoW as well.  They managed to carry it off through sheer size.  You can afford support a small part of your player base if the total numbers are big enough to staff up for it.  More people probably play on PvP servers in WoW than ever played EQII at any given time.

But it still persists.  Maybe Lord British has enough bandwidth to manage it with Shroud of the Avatar… color me skeptical though, no matter how much people love to talk about the good old days of Ultima Online… but when Brad McQuaid is talking about PvP as a feature for Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, that is enough for me to write the whole project off.  That is too big of an additional feature.  But scope creep was his problem with Vanguard as well.

Addendum: EQ2Wire has a summary of EverQuest II PvP posted.

Desert of Flames Unlock Vote Passes on Stormhold and Deathtoll

Last week’s poll for the Desert of Flames unlock on the EverQuest II TLE servers had the tally pass the two thirds mark in favor of the new content.

Next Thursday it will be open season for flying carpets on both servers.

In the Pillars of Flame

I am still not fond of flying carpets…

I was against the unlock for the first vote, but had reached a point of indifference by last week when I realized I hadn’t been playing on the server as much as I thought I might.

Still, both of the TLE servers remain popular from the look of things.  The next vote, in ~30 days, will ask if the servers should advance to the Kingdom of Sky expansion.

Also, there was some blah blah blah about a new expansion.  I’ll get to that later once I catch up.

Desert of Flames Vote Up Again on Stormhold

Another 30 days have passed and it is time to vote again on whether or not to unlock the Desert of Flames expansion on the Stormhold time locked expansion server… and the Deathtoll PvP server as well, though I don’t have any characters there, so won’t be voting there.

Last time around I was actively encouraging people to vote against the unlock, the server having only been up for 30 days.  That seemed like way too short a duration to enjoy the original 50 levels of content.

This time around I am voting against the unlock again.

The vote is up

The vote is up

However, I do not feel as strongly about it, for the most part because I have not been playing much in the last 30 days.  I never ended up finding somebody to play with… the obvious target, Gaff, who got me to buy the game back in 2004, picked up EVE Online again just as the server went live… and other games have filled the gap.

So as much as I would like the server to sit and wait until the time was ripe for me, it won’t be a personal tragedy if the whole thing moves on to another expansion.

But I am still voting against.  The vote runs through the weekend, closing at noon on Tuesday, with results expected shortly thereafter.  To vote you just have to log on to the server and check your in-game mail.

Stormhold and Deathtoll Players See Their Shadow, 30 More Days of EverQuest II Classic

Another poll result for the EverQuest II Time Locked Expansion servers.

That is Daybreak's graphic for the idea

Wooo! Nostalgia!

Last weekend I was imploring players on the Stormhold server to vote no on unlocking the Desert of Flames expansion a mere 30 days into the life of the server.  Too soon!  Too soon!

DoFUnlockPoll1

Well, the results are in and have been posted to the forums.

Thanks to all on the TLE servers who participated!

DEATHTOLL: Voted “NO” on the expansion. The 2/3rds requirement was not met by a long shot.

STORMHOLD: Voted “NO” on the expansion. The 2/3rds requirement was not met by an even longer shot.

We will re-run the Desert of Flames Expansion vote again on Sept. 20 – 27 for one week!

Woo hoo!  Another month for me to get my act together and get a character past… oh, I don’t know… level 20 maybe?

Seriously though, I felt pretty strongly that 30 days was an awfully quick time frame in which to get the player base to level 50 and ready for more content.  I know that some people rushed through and are even now complaining on the forums about being bored.

As somebody pointed out in the forums, the vote actually runs through tomorrow.  But EverQuest Franchise Executive Producer Holly “Windstalker” Longdale decided to announce the results early as the voting was strongly against the unlock to the point of being extremely unlikely to change between now and when voting ends.

The question is now more about how long the server will be held in the “classic” EverQuest II state.  The rules say that if there are three failed unlock votes in a row, the voting moves to every 90 days.  That could lead to a long stay in the land of classic.